June 23, 2011

In Today's Issue:

Freytag, Steele, Scott, Carkoski to Serve as Co-Chairs for Washington Public Policy Conference

United Fresh Board members Tony Freytag of Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, Will Steele of Frontera Produce, Food Lion's Randy Scott, and Ron Carkoski of Four Seasons Produce will serve as co-chairs for United's upcoming Washington Public Policy Conference, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

While the four co-chairs will act together as ambassadors for the annual WPPC, each has chosen a particular aspect of the event as a key reason that industry members from all segments of the industry should attend.

"Nobody knows the intricacies of the produce industry better than the men and women who lead it," said Steele, vice-chairman of United's Grower-Shipper Market Segment board, who points to the conference as an ideal place for produce leaders to represent the industry as one. "Legislators need to hear what we have to say when it comes to the key issues. Equally important, though, the Washington Public Policy Conference gives industry leaders a chance to hear each other – to trade ideas and get feedback on what is and isn't working for their companies."

For Fresh-Cut Processor Board Vice-Chair Tony Freytag, it is the WPPC's annual Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill that holds the most potential for networking, exposure and business growth.

"With each annual edition, the Fresh Festival strengthens its reputation as one of the most popular events on Capitol Hill," he said. "With that popularity come legislators from across the country and both sides of the aisle, eager to taste what our industry has to offer. This year's festival is such a fantastic chance to network with your industry counterparts while showing a captive audience of lawmakers and congressional staffers the variety and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables our industry has to offer."

Carkoski, vice-chair of United's Wholesaler-Distributor Board, points to the face time with lawmakers and with industry colleagues provided by the annual conference as key to the effectiveness of the WPPC.

"For a single company, it's easy to focus solely on your own business and forget the impact that policies set in Washington have on your day-to-day operation," said Carkoski. "By coming to Washington, you'll give direct feedback to lawmakers and government agencies on the way federal policies work for your business on the ground level. You'll also have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with hundreds of other produce industry leaders, all keyed in to the same importance of industry involvement here in Washington. In this way, the small investment it takes to come to the Washington Public Policy Conference pays huge dividends for your business."

For Randy Scott, vice-chairman of United's Retail-Foodservice Board, the atmosphere in Washington will be a significant draw for attendees.

"There is a vibrant energy inside the Beltway, and the Washington Public Policy Conference puts you right in the center of it all," he said. "From the iconic seat of government, to the omnipresent national and international media, to cuisine that is second to none, D.C. is every bit the world-class city. Every second in Washington, there are deals struck, decisions made and policy forged. This year's conference, just steps from the Capitol, immerses you in the excitement that comes with being in the heart of American politics."

Registration for the 2011 WPPC is now open, and more information can be found at www.unitedfresh.org/programs/wppc, or by contacting United Fresh at 202-303-3400.

Updated Tomato Metrics Now Available in English, Spanish

United Fresh announced today the release of the 2011 version of The Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, more commonly referred to as the Tomato Metrics. The re-issue of the Tomato Metrics is the latest in a process initiated in October 2008 to harmonize food safety audit standards for the fresh tomato supply chain, with the goal of ultimately replacing the multitude of similar yet different audit standards with a single one. The document, available in both English and Spanish, can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here.

"The 2009 Tomato Metrics were developed by a wide range of fresh tomato stakeholders, representing growers, shippers, repackers, processors, retail and foodservice organizations," said the Florida Tomato Exchange's Reggie Brown. "FDA, USDA and state officials were present throughout the process, and these revisions were developed with that same spirit of inclusion and transparency, with all stakeholders having an opportunity to comment."

The Tomato Metrics began in July 2008, with the second edition of the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, as a basis, endeavoring to establish "requirements" that were as specific as possible, but keeping in consideration different needs based on region, sub-commodity (e.g., round vs. Roma vs. grape or cherry tomatoes), operation size and equivalent growing or handling practices. Every effort was made to base these requirements on current science, but working group participants accepted that these requirements would likely change as future research provides better information.

"When the decision was made to move forward with a harmonized preventive food safety standard and audit for the fresh tomato supply chain, the team recognized that the end product must remain a living document and would be subject to amendment as science warrants," said Ed Beckman of California Tomato Farmers. "The 2011 version takes into consideration the need for more extensive pre-plant and pre-harvest assessments, especially related to confined animal feeding operations (CAFO). The product remains a joint effort of the entire supply chain and it's rewarding to all involved that the resulting protocol is becoming a requirement of major buyers in the United States. California Tomato Farmers remains committed to the harmonization of food safety protocol and the adoption of a single audit, universally accepted by all customers."

The tomato industry reconvened late in 2010 to review the performance of the Tomato Metrics, and concluded that the effort was achieving its goal of harmonizing food safety audits for the covered operations, including greenhouse, open field production, harvest and field packing, packinghouse and repacking and distribution. During the meeting, the industry representatives considered recommendations for changes to several of the documents, and accepted several of the recommendations, which are reflected in today's reissue of the Tomato Metrics document.

The Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain is available in both English and Spanish, and can be downloaded here. Additional information is available by contacting Erin Grether, United Fresh government relations coordinator at 202-303-3400, ext. 402. Spanish translation versions were provided courtesy of Confederation of Agricultural Growers Associations of Sinaloa.

United Members in the Central Coast Area Invited to Participate Live in United's Upcoming E-Verify Webinar

As United Fresh kicks off its Summer Webinar Series next week with an in-depth exploration of recently-introduced legislation requiring employers to use E-Verify to certify worker eligibility, the association invites members in and around California's Central Coast to participate in the webinar live with Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president of public policy and Grower Shipper Association of Central California President and General Counsel Jim Bogart. Following the webinar will be an in-person strategy discussion on congressional efforts to mandate E-Verify on businesses.

The June 28 webinar will tackle the potential effects of the legislation, proposed earlier this month by House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), and will include presentations from industry leaders and top labor minds, including Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA; Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association; Craig Regelbrugge, vice president for government relations and research, American Nursery and Landscape Association and co-chair, Agriculture Coaltion for Immigration Reform; and  Laura Foote Reiff, co-managing shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and  co-chair, Essential Workers Immigration Coalition (EWIC).

A mandatory federal E-Verify law would require employers to electronically certify worker eligibility and, according to United Fresh, would be highly disruptive to the agricultural workforce. United Fresh continues to advocate the inclusion of provisions in the legislation to make the bill workable for agricultural employers.

Through the generous sponsorship of 3M Food Safety, the webinar series is free and is reserved for United Fresh members only. Next week's webinar will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m. Eastern/11:00 a.m. Pacific. The live program will take place at the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California's building, and lunch will be provided to all attendees. Space is limited to 50 United Fresh member company representatives. If you wish to participate in the live webinar viewing and strategy discussion, please contact Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400, ext. 410. Registration for the online webinar may be done by clicking here, and more information can be found by contacting United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.


United Fresh Nutrition Council Focuses on Action Steps to Accomplish Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools Goal

Dan'l Mackey Almy, United Fresh Board member and president of Irving, TX-based DMA Solutions, focused on "action steps" to support the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative in her first meeting as chair of United's Nutrition Council in Washington this week. To date, salad bars have been donated to 800 schools nation-wide through the efforts of all Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools partners.

During the meeting, members of the Nutrition Council focused their discussion on national and regional fundraising strategies and discussed collaboration with United's Wholesaler-Distributor Market Segment Board, as well as training webinars for schools and foodservice distributors.

During the meeting, members of the Nutrition Council expressed their excitement and commitment to be part of a high-visibility national initiative to increase student access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. With a goal of donating 6,000 salad bars to schools over three years, partners want to put big numbers on the board this school year, especially now that we are expected to report progress to the White House's Let's Move! initiative every month and contribute salad bar success stories to the Let's Move! blog.

Schools around the country have applied for salad bars on www.saladbars2schools.org and currently there are requests for 500 salad bars that need funding. For more information on how your company can get involved with Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.

Muir Copper Canyon Farms Promotes Salad Bars and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables to Utah Schools

United Fresh Board Member Phil Muir, president of Salt Lake City-based Muir Copper Canyon Farms, and his team took the Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools message to the Utah School Nutrition Show last week in St. George. With the goal of generating excitement about all of the kid-friendly fresh fruits and vegetables available to schools while making valuable new business contacts, Muir Copper Canyon Farms featured a salad bar filled with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as a centerpiece of their company's exhibit.

The company also provided school food officials with information about Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools and how salad bars increase fruit and vegetable consumption. During the show, many school food service officials spoke with Muir about how their salad bars double as kiosks for their Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Programs.

Prior to the show in St. George, Muir hosted United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra for a visit to see first-hand the company's successful partnerships with area schools and to talk with their school foodservice customers, including the Provo City School District's office of Child Nutrition, led by United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winner Jenilee McComb.

"It was so exciting to hear Provo City School District's commitment to serving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school day—for breakfast, morning snack, lunch, and after school snack—and making fruits and vegetables fun and creative," said DiSogra. "This school district understands that students love to try new things and they have made fresh produce a real priority. From that priority has grown a fantastic, mutually-beneficial business partnership with Muir Copper Canyon Farms."
For information on Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools, please contact DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403, or visit www.saladbars2schools.org.

First Lady's Let's Move! Blog Features Salad Bar Success Story

This week First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! blog featured an article on the success of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools in Washington, DC. A total of 27 D.C. Public and Charter schools have received salad bars during the past year and two of the schools, DC Bilingual and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Charter Schools, were highlighted in the blog.

First Lady Michelle Obama visited CentroNía's DC Bilingual Public Charter School several weeks ago and that sparked interest in a story about how salad bars are benefiting so thousands of DC school children. DC Bilingual was the second school in Washington to receive a salad bar from United Fresh through Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools.

United Fresh and its Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools partners are now submitting monthly feature stories to the Let's Move! blog. The 27 DC schools received salad bars through the generous contributions of United Fresh, Dole Food Company, Whole Foods Market, Cambro and Vollrath.

For information on how you can support Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools please contact United's Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.    

Senate Ag Committee Passes Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act

After the House of Representatives passed its counterpart in late March, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 passed out of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry this week. With the development, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to send the legislation to the floor for "swift Senate passage."

The legislation is an effort to prevent duplicative permitting processes for pesticide applications near water. Currently, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates the use of pesticides to address threats to agriculture production from a variety of pests.

Under a 2009 court of appeals ruling, pesticide applicants would be required to obtain a permit under EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is authorized by the Clean Water Act. This would have been in addition to the FIFRA permitting process with which applicants must already comply. The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act clarifies that compliance with FIFRA requirements is sufficient.

"The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act would eliminate a duplicative and unnecessary requirement that doesn't actually improve environmental safety," said Julie Manes, director of government relations for United Fresh. "Promoting the safe use of pesticides benefits the environment, farmers and consumers, and we hope that Majority Leader Reid will send this measure to the Senate floor for a vote."

Family Businesses Encouraged to Get Involved; Scholarship Program Provides Opportunity

Family produce businesses will be the guests of honor at this fall's Washington Public Policy Conference as winners of the 2011 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. Presented by the United Fresh Foundation, the program recognizes up to four family-owned United Fresh member businesses with complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the association's annual public policy summit, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

The scholarship program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda. The program is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

Applications for the program are now being accepted, and more information is available by clicking here. Applicants must complete an application and written submission detailing why they want to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applicants must be employed by a family business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing. All applications must be received by July 15. Applications should be sent to the United Fresh Foundation, attention Victoria Backer via email at vbacker@unitedfresh.org; fax to 202-303-3433; or mail to United Fresh Foundation, 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20006.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408, and for more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, contact United's Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Food Safety and Technology Council Chair Walter Ram Discusses Import Safety at Institute of Medicine

Giumarra's Walter Ram, chairman of the United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council, addressed the need for increased food safety research and highlighted the industry's progress toward a harmonized audit standard during a public meeting on import food safety presented by the Institute of Medicine's Food Forum in Washington earlier this month

Speaking on behalf of United Fresh and the greater produce industry alongside representatives from the distribution and brokerage, manufacturing, retail and foodservice sectors of the food industry, Ram underscored the desire of the produce industry to work collaboratively with FDA and other agencies on matters of food safety.

"We really want to do this better," said Ram. "But we need better direction. As an industry, we want to work with FDA so that we can do it better."

The meeting, The Impact of Global Trade on Food Safety: Supply Chain and Policy/Regulatory Approaches to Import Safety,was intended to bring representatives of the major sectors of the food industry together with government and academia in the interest of addressing successes and challenges faced by the food industry and regulatory agencies on matters of food safety. Ram pointed to the close-knit relationship that companies along the fresh produce supply chain have with one another as an asset in the effort for improved food safety practices.

Additionally, the meeting focused on new authorities and tools granted to the FDA through the Food Safety Modernization Act to ensure that imported products meet U.S. standards and are safe for consumption. These new authorities include importer accountability, third party certification, certification for high risk foods, voluntary qualified importer program, and authority to deny entry.

For a full agenda of the meeting, please click here, and for more information on United's work on food safety, and on the Food Safety and Technology Council, visit www.unitedfresh.org.

Produce Traceability Initiative Launches PTI FYI to Keep Stakeholders Informed on Traceability

The four administering organizations of the Produce Traceability Initiative launched a new quarterly newsletter this week, PTI FYI, intended to keep members of the fresh produce industry up-to-date on the latest developments on PTI and traceability in general.

In the inaugural issue of PTI FYI covers issues ranging from the need for proactive involvement on traceability by the produce industry, to best practices for hybrid pallet labeling, to answers for some of the PTI's most frequently asked questions.

To read this quarter's PTI FYI, please click here, and for more information on the Produce Traceability Initiative, please contact United's Dan Vache at 425-629-6271.

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2011 Supporters

United Fresh's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the 2011 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Huron Produce, Ltd., Exeter, ON
  • Frontera Produce, Edinburg, TX
  • Keystone Potato Products, Hegins, PA
  • Kwik Lok Corporation, Yakima, WA
  • Progressive Produce Corporation, Los Angeles, CA
  • The Sanson Company, Cleveland, OH
  • Stemilt Growers, LLC, Wenatchee, WA
  • Strube Celery & Vegetable Company, Chicago, IL
  • Thermal Technologies, Blythewood, SC

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.  For more information on the Chairman's Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

New Member Welcome

Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • Amstad Farming Co., Hermiston, OR
  • Huron Produce, Ltd., Exeter, ON
  • Leger & Son, Cordele, GA
  • Packline West, Inc., LaVerne, CA
  • Sunnyside Packing, Selma, CA
  • Westmoreland Sales, Leamington, ON

United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the Association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you.  For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

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